Living standards
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Prices & consumption
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Brexit & trade
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Tax

After Brexit the UK could cut VAT on energy – but should it?

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During the EU referendum, one of Vote Leave’s promises was that “fuel bills will be lower for everyone”. Specifically, Boris Johnson and others argued that: “In 1993, VAT on household energy bills was imposed. This makes gas and electricity much more expensive. EU rules mean we cannot take VAT off those bills. The least wealthy … Continued

Living standards
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Prices & consumption

Five key takeaways on UK household spending

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Yesterday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its annual rundown of what UK households spend their money on. Quite a bit of the ONS’s analysis focused on who spends most on takeaways. But given household consumption is perhaps the most detailed and direct window on current living standards, there’s plenty more of interest in … Continued

Incomes
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Prices & consumption

Guest blog: When the ONS changes its mind, economic policy and political reputation are on the line

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In these ‘post-expert’ times, it’s worth remembering that good policy rests on good evidence. Our fiscal and monetary institutions don’t just set policy with reference to economic theory, but in relation to what’s going on in the economy. So – as we heard earlier this week – when history gets re-written in a way that … Continued

Living standards
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Incomes
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Prices & consumption

Hey big spender!

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Todays’ annual Family Spending release contains the usual treasure trove of information on what UK households spent their money on last year. Households spent a lot. Average weekly spending rose (after adjusting for inflation) by 4 per cent from £533 to £554 between 2015-16 and 2016-17 – the sharpest increase for well over a decade … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Prices & consumption
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Inequality & poverty
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Welfare

The living standards issue that’s bigger than Brexit for lower income households

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Love it or loathe it, the long shadow of Brexit is set to dominate our political weather for some considerable time to come. With good reason of course. The long-term impact remains uncertain, but we can be sure it will be significant. And in the near-term, there’s no denying that the referendum result is at … Continued

Prices & consumption
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Economy and public finances

Inflation afflictions

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The story of the last 12 months is that inflation has risen rapidly and eroded people’s living standards. From 0.8 per cent in June 2016 inflation is now 2.6 per cent. Despite the small welcome fall last month current projections suggest it will remain around this level for the rest of the year. The rise … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Prices & consumption

2016 was a good year for living standards – but families didn’t splash out

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Today’s annual Family Spending release contains the usual wealth of useful information on household spending patterns. It shows that overall spending was largely unchanged in 2015-16 (at £529 a week) relative to the previous year, once inflation is accounted for. Indeed, having fallen slightly from 2006 and then increased gently after 2012, average household spending is little … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Incomes
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Prices & consumption
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Economy and public finances

Theresa May needs to spread the jam more thickly

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Since taking office in July, Theresa May has made it clear that she wants to put the ‘just about managing’ – those working families struggling to get by – at the heart of her government’s agenda. Yet Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, which provided the first opportunity for setting out a package of support, proved less jam-packed … Continued

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